Australia urged to use controversial tactic in World Cup semi against South Africa

Australia's semi-final opponents have a history of falling short on the biggest stage in world cricket.

Pictured right, Australia players sledging an England batter during their World Cup match.

Two-time Cricket World Cup winner Brad Haddin has urged the Australian side to resort to mind games against South Africa in Thursday night's (AEDT) semi-final in Kolkata. The Aussies head into the last-four showdown on the back of a seven-game winning streak, with their last defeat coming against the Proteas in the group stages.

Confidence is understandably high in the Aussie camp but Haddin has urged his countrymen to remind the South African players about their history of choking at World Cups. The most famous of such incidents came in Australia's 1999 World Cup triumph when the Proteas somehow squandered a golden chance to knock the Aussies out - bowing out in the semi-finals after drawing with the higher ranked Australians.

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The match became infamous for Herschelle Gibbs "dropping the World Cup" after the South African superstar put down a regular catch to remove Aussie captain Steve Waugh. The Proteas suffered the ultimate ignominy in the final over when a horrendous mix-up between Lance Klusener and Allan Donald resulted in a run-out that sealed Australia's passage into the final, where they went on to defeat Pakistan.

The match has been somewhat indicative of South Africa's fortunes in Cricket World Cups, with the Proteas having never reached a final in their proud cricketing history. It's a fact not lost on Haddin, who's urged the Aussie side to adopt a questionable tactic by doing everything in their power to get inside the heads of their semi-final opponents.

Brad Haddin wants Aussies to resort to mind games

“I think that’s really important. I’d be reminding them of that as soon as we walk on the field,” Haddin said on Fox Sports’ The Back Page on Tuesday night. “Are they battle hardened? I’m not so sure. They’ve still got demons, they’ve never made it this far (to a final). They’ve choked. They’ve had great teams in the past.

South Africa's failure to reach a World Cup final is shocking considering some of the legends who've represented the country such as Donald, Klusener, Jonty Rhodes, Herschelle Gibbs, AB de Villiers and Jacques Kallis. In contrast, Australia has won the World Cup on five occasions and Haddin argues there will be no escaping South Africa's grim reality in cricket-mad India.

On the right is Australia's two-time World Cup winner Brad Haddin.
Two-time World Cup winner Brad Haddin said he would be reminding the Proteas about their history of choking if he was in the Australian side. Pic: Getty

“There’s a thousand Indian channels, it (those losses) would be playing on TV somewhere,” said Haddin, who was part of Australia’s 2007 and 2017 World Cup-winning squads. “The interesting thing; I’ve seen AB de Villiers come out and say, ‘this team’s hardened, we’re not thinking about that now’. But that’s all he was talking about. All he was talking about was the past.

“It’s in their head. It’s whether they’re strong enough mentally to get through it, and I don’t think they are.... I just don’t think they can get past that mental block and that’s what it is.

"They’ll be talking a lot leading in about, ‘we’re not the same team, we weren’t part of that’ but that is all part of it.” Haddin says the key for Pat Cummins' Aussie side will be to get off to a fast start in the hopes that some of those doubts creep into the Proteas side.

Australia is peaking at the right time

The former wicketkeeper reckons Australia have timed their run superbly and are peaking at the business end of the tournament, with Steve Smith's return to form with the bat against Bangladesh particularly pleasing. “We’re peaking now for that perfect performance,” Haddin said.

“At stages we’ve been really good at the top, we’ve been really good at the back end of games with the bat and ball but it’s those middle overs that we need to own, and I’ve just got a feeling Steve Smith found his mojo that last game against Bangladesh. He was a bit conservative the way he’s been playing but he freed himself up and now if we can master (overs) 11 to 40, I think we’ll be hard to beat.”

The Aussies are set to welcome back Mitchell Starc into the XI for Sean Abbott after the fiery quick was rested for the win over Bangladesh. Glenn Maxwell - also rested after his record-breaking 201 not out against Afghanistan - will also return to the side with Marcus Stoinis or Marnus Labuschagne likely to make way.

with AAP

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